Built for the Hunt
Crocodilians slide silently through the water. Ears, eyes, and nostrils barely break the surface but underwater, the long, muscular tail propels them towards unsuspecting prey. Their powerful jaws snap up meals in a flash.
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An alligator's eyes are high on its head, enabling it to see above water while most of its body stays submerged.
Bony plates, called osteoderms, lie under the hardened skin scales of a crocodilian's head and back. Like armor, this tough hide protects adults from most predators.
Lacking osteoderms, the belly skin is soft and supple—a quality that people desire in leather goods. Unfortunately, illegal over-harvesting is a continuing threat to most crocodilians.Caiman: Saved by Its Skin
Tropical American crocodilians are threatened by illegal hunting, except for some caimans. Why? Instead of soft belly skin, these caimans have protective bony armor underneath, making their hard hide undesirable to people and commercially worthless. more about the dwarf caiman
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